Be afraid. Do the thing anyway.
Thoughts on Fear, Creativity, and Becoming Your Own Filmmaking Cavalry
Written by Keylee Sudduth
January 28, 2019
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” -Georgia O’Keefe
The countdown to the debut of #hometheseries continues! We are just 3 days away! I am a ball of feelings.
Over two years ago, I embarked on a creative journey unlike any other that I’ve ever been a part of with my best friend, Micah Sudduth.
Wait, I'll back up a little. Micah and I met in a tiny black box theatre production in Austin, Texas over 8 years ago. We loved acting with each other and very early on we would spend our free time putting in extra rehearsal time for the play we were in– and dreaming up future original creative projects together.
We moved to Los Angeles a year and a half after meeting and got married shortly after that. Over the course of the last 7 years, we've started making our dreamed-up creative projects a reality. We made a short-form youtube series (called TALK!) on weekends with our friends in 2012 and paid them in hummus (Talk ended up being Hellogiggle's first featured scripted series and you can watch it here!), and no-budget short films like #scrambledtheshort (watch that here!). These creations kept us going when everything else about our experience in Hollywood frankly sucked.
Every time we made something, we came back to life. We learned so much. And we realized – the only times we had acting opportunities that for sure led to something meaningful that we were proud of – we had created those opportunities ourselves. Yes, we were lucky in the sense that we were each able to book some acting work during our time in Hollywood, and some of it was awesome collaborations with friends – but overall, acting work was mostly commercial roles that came with decent paychecks but zero depth and no guarantee of continuation or growth. And honestly, when we were dreaming of what we wanted to create, it was NEVER 30-second videos used to sell burgers or phones.
We have always wanted to work on incredible TV shows and films that made us FEEL. Waiting for someone to help us do that was really hard. We felt alone. We come from small towns in Texas. We had no connections, no financial support or help from our families at all, we carried some super handy student loan debt, worked our share of barely-getting-by yet time-consuming day jobs, and of course navigated an onslaught of rejections and personal setbacks. We started feeling very down and powerless in LA.
We quickly got tired of feeling that way. And we realized we were CHOOSING to feel that way. All the resources we needed were right there in the mirror. WE were the resources we needed! To quote filmmaker Mark Duplass, we realized WE were the cavalry!
So, combined with our decision to be our own game changers (and with the helpful resources of ourselves and the internet) we decided we were going to do something crazy.
We were going to take our careers in our own hands. Fully. We were going to create our own production company (simply by filing as an LLC), save up all the money we could for as many years as we could (by essentially being recluses and not doing normal twenty-something pass times like going out, buying a lot of alcohol, or traveling). We were going to stay committed to day jobs that provided flexibility, piece together money from different sources and learn new skills, and spend all of our free time "at school" – either in class ( if we could afford it), or simply at home, writing and studying other filmmakers whose works we liked. We utilized knowledge from books, movies, shows, and free videos online to learn what we liked and what the filmmakers we liked had to say about their process and lessons they found valuable.
And we kept creating.
In 2016, we wrote the big one: #hometheseries. A six-episode, 85-minute narrative show about a journey we knew well. An exploration on what "home" means... is it where you are, or who you make it with? We used all of our savings to shoot this show over a 10-day period and put the remainder of the production costs on a credit card in good faith. And magically, that good faith worked. We were able to pay off the credit card and even secure better day jobs.
And we kept working on Home for another year of post-production. We emailed it to managers and mostly got ignored or rejected. We submitted it to festivals. Got rejected again. Then, we got into some pretty amazing ones (Tribeca! AGH!) And we heard back from *the* one manager and executive producer that we had specifically been setting our goals towards for years. (We wrote him a heartfelt letter to get a response. True story. It worked.) He watched our show. And now we are developing a new tv show with his team, as well as a feature film.
Home was a game-changer for us. And it only happened because we listened to our inner voices that said, "Hey, it's scary to bet on yourself – but if you don't, who will? Go for it. Create the life you want. Stop waiting. Make shit happen. DO IT NOW!" So we did what the voices said. And we changed our lives.
We are proud of the story we told with Home. It's about connection. It's about how even when life feels challenging and you're not where you want to be – there is still so much to laugh at, so many friends to love, and so much to be grateful for. Life is about being where you are and enjoying the ride. Home is a state of mind, you carry it with you. And connection to yourself and others is always available. We will carry this show and the lessons that it taught us with us always.
In just 3 days, we will share Home with the world.
I wish I could list all of the fears we had to face to make Home a reality, but the list would be longer than this whole long-ass post already is. There were a ton. And they still come back and whisper to us. They've been whispering more since we get closer and closer to the day the show is out there and we are opened up to all of the internet's opinions (wee!).
The fears are real. And they may have won their share of battles with us over the years– but they'll never win the war. We ain't giving up yet.
Just 3 days until season one of Home drops online!
Visit our Home series page to learn more about the show. Or check out our portfolio page to see ALL of the work we’ve created to date (except for a new secret project that we haven’t shared yet – stay tuned for that one). And if you've got a dream – by all means, GO AFTER IT! Give it all you've got. I promise you will never, ever, ever regret it. And you may even surprise yourself by outdoing your own expectations and evolving into so much more than you thought you could be. It's okay to be terrified. Do the thing you want to do anyways. COME ALIVE, y'all! The possibilities are limitless.